Group hopes to see new economy emerge based on Hawaiian values of ʻāina aloha—a deep and abiding love for our communities and natural environments

By Dan Nakaso, Star Advertiser, May 20, 2020

A new group that wants to reboot Hawaii’s tourist-based economy in the era of the new coronavirus announced a four-step plan Tuesday to come up with ideas by August based on Native Hawaiian cultural values.

The ‘Aina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration, which was sent to Gov. David Ige, is the first part of an effort to create a different island economy based on centuries of island-based values. It is posted at

The declaration was authored by 14 members of the community who want “to reboot the entire operating system of our economy,” said Kamanamaikalani Beamer, associate professor of the University of Hawaii’s Center for Hawaiian Studies in the Hui ‘Aina Momona Program, who also has a joint appointment in UH’s Richardson School of Law and the Hawai‘inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

By the end of the process in the next three months, Beamer and other organizers said Tuesday that they hope community members participate in urging decision-makers to write a new economic road map “to lead us into the future. … What we want is a better life for our aina and for each of our islands.”

Organizers said they hope to have comments and suggestions by May 31, followed by webinar sessions on specific issues such as agriculture and education through July, concluding with a policy plan sometime in August.

So far, the overall concept has been endorsed by more than 550 individuals and organizations.

No specific ideas were presented Tuesday. “Nothing is carved in stone,” one of the organizers, Noe Noe Wong-Wilson of Hilo, said Tuesday at a video news conference.

In a statement she said, “We heard over and again sentiments like ‘we can’t rebuild the same economy that produced the problems we’re facing. Everyone agreed that we need to re-establish an economy that puts the well-being of our ‘aina, our food and energy sustainability, and the interests of our Hawai‘i residents at the forefront.’”

She added in her statement, “We have a kuleana to manage our resources in a way that accomplishes these goals, and we need to hold our leaders accountable to do so.”

A new island economy needs to be based on values “that have sustained life in these islands for centuries,” Beamer said.

A post-COVID-19 economy should provide “meaningful work and sustainable wages … that works for the many and not the few,” he said.

Asked for examples, Beamer said Germany, Copenhagen and parts of China are adapting to a “circular economy” — unlike “linear” economies that “extract resources as cheaply as possible,” perhaps to the environment’s detriment, to produce expendable commodities such as flat-screen TVs that end up in landfills.

Instead, Beamer said, parts of the European Union produce products that can be repaired instead of discarded. “It’s happening all across the world,” he said.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Hawaii was looking at another year of “10 million people marching across our land,” said Joseph Lapilio, president of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve let it get away from us,” he said. Aside from Hawaii’s reliance on tourism, other questions linger, Lapilio said, such as “how do we fuel our cars, our homes?”


ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration

A Call for Unity

Every crisis opens a course to opportunity. Some of the world’s greatest accomplishments were born from adversity by those who were inherently equipped with vision and resolve. The COVID-19 pandemic will leave a saga of sorrow, loss and frustration with an equal and overwhelming amount of sacrifice, heroism and victory. This “new normal” has thrust us into what our kūpuna Hawaiʻi would call a huliau, or a turning point and time of change, for all of us who call Hawaiʻi home.

While we are reeling from this visceral reminder of how vulnerable we are to external impacts on our ʻāina aloha, or beloved homeland, our history as a resilient people is undeniable. The Native Hawaiian community in particular is one that for centuries has fought to overcome obstacles that all of us here in Hawaiʻi are now faced with. Whether rebounding from infectious disease that decimated our population or successfully advocating for equitable remedies from government systems, these challenges are today ones that we confront as a collective.

Now perhaps more than ever, the ancestral values that guided us through these challenges and numerous others provide a pivotal leverage point for all of us as we set a course towards a stronger, sustainable Hawaiʻi and seize this opportunity for huliau, a turning point and time of change.

Guiding Principles:

  • ʻĀina AlohaWe are of and from this ʻāina that ultimately sustains us. We employ strategies for economic development that place our kuleana to steward precious, limited resources in a manner that ensures our long-term horizon as a viable island people and place.
  • ʻŌpū Aliʻi: Our leaders understand that their privilege to lead is directly dependent on those they serve. From the most vulnerable to the most privileged, we seek to regenerate an abundance that provides for everyone. Decision makers understand and embrace their duty and accountability to Community. Our social, economic and government systems engage and respond to a collective voice in integrative ways to balance power and benefit.
  • ʻImi ʻOi Kelakela: We are driven by creativity and innovation, constantly challenging the status quo. We are mindful and observant of needs, trends and opportunities and seek new knowledge and development opportunities in ways that enhance our way of life without jeopardizing our foundation of ʻāina aloha
  • Hoʻokipa: We are inclusive and embrace the collective that will call Hawaiʻi home, grounded in the fundamental understanding that it is our kuleana to control and manage our resources in a way that allows us to fulfill our role as hosts here in our ʻāina aloha.

Future Directions

These principles will calibrate our course not only to recovery but rediscovery of our potential as a unique people and place. Over the past five decades, we have seen local, national and international models of social, educational, agricultural and economic resiliency emerge from our Hawaiian community. This is due in no small part to a grounding in these foundational values. We have been here for millennia and will be for many more. There is nowhere else we could or would choose to be. We are committed to this kuleana of ʻāina aloha and ensuring the sustainability of this place and those who choose to make it home.

As we seek to engage at decision making tables, adding value and insight to Hawaiʻi’s economic path forward post COVID-19, we implore and invite you to support and engage with us (view and comment on the action agenda). From healthcare, education and digital innovation to food security, tourism, and affordable housing strategies, we are mākaukau for this imminent  huliau!

Huliau Action Agenda

ʻĀina Aloha Part 2

We have a perfect window right now to begin the momentous hulihia that is so deeply needed in Hawaiʻi. The Coronavirus has laid bare our vulnerabilities and provided us a rare opportunity to forward plans for a stronger and more  sustainable Hawaiʻi. Below are actionable guidelines that will help to frame future specific proposals:  ​

ʻĀina Aloha

We embrace inclusivity as a foundational aspect of our culture in Hawaiʻi to:

  • Honor the roles of kamaʻāina, and newer residents alike, who have a deep aloha for Hawaiʻi and its communities and who are major contributors to Hawaiʻi’s strength
  • Support the right of everyone who was born in these islands, or who has made Hawaiʻi their home, to have a voice in determining the future of Hawaiʻi.
  • We affirm that Native Hawaiian culture and perspectives are strengths in rebuilding a resilient Hawaiʻi, and we seek to:
  • Place the well-being of our ʻāina, water, and oceans at the forefront, recognizing the long held understanding that the ʻāina is our aliʻi, and we are its servant.
  • Recognize, as is occurring worldwide, that indigenous perspectives and insights are key to ensuring environmental vibrancy and community cohesion.
  • Include in decision making circles those who carry the wisdom of the first and highly successful stewards of Hawaiʻi.
  • Acknowledge and address historical injustices against Native Hawaiians.
  • Acknowledge that Native Hawaiians are a living, evolving people whose well-being is central to Hawaiʻi’s continued vitality and that Native Hawaiian well-being is intrinsically tied to the health and well-being of our ʻāina.   
  • Follow practices that embody the Hawaiian concept of ʻĀina Aloha, or beloved homeland.

ʻŌpū Aliʻi

We believe that leaders are accountable to revise current laws and systems to provide Hawaiʻi’s working families:​

  • Living wages  
  • Safe workplaces
  • Access to universal health care
  • Reasonably priced housing
  • Locally grown and sourced food 
  • Quality education from preschool through higher education
  • Reasonable taxes on home properties and ancestral ʻohana lands
  • Access to beaches, forest areas, and other public lands for subsistence, cultural practices, and recreation
  • Equitable access to technology and broadband connectivity

We seek to empower fearless leaders who care passionately for our ʻāina, Hawaiʻiʻs residents, and the communities we call home. 

  • We will lift up leaders who support the will of our communities and the people they represent. 
  • We expect our leaders to pass laws that protect the ʻāina, oceans, waterways, and forests–the full breadth of our finite, irreplaceable natural environments.
  • We expect elected leaders to honor the rights of the natives of this land and commit to ensuring, as mandated by law, that:
    • ​​Native Hawaiians receive an appropriately calculated 20 percent of the public land trust revenues
    • The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is fully funded.
    • Opportunities to learn through the medium of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, one of two official state languages, are accessible to learners who want to pursue such options. 

ʻImi ʻOi Kelakela

We embrace change that supports the well-being of our islands and communities. 

  • We cannot go back to old ways of doing things. 
  • We need a strong, self-sustaining economy in Hawaiʻi that is:
    • Resilient to worldwide economic downturns 
    • Embodies ‘āina aloha
    • Restores our environments 
    • Creates clean renewable energy, and 
    • Ensures our ability to be sustained by fertile lands and seas 
  • We must establish and nurture an economy that will contribute to global efforts toward developing a “circular economy” that: 
    • Seeks to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation
    • Is regenerative, designs out waste, and provides for meaningful work and livable wages 
    • Does not perpetuate the vast social-economic inequalities of the current antiquated economic system
  • ​We seek to establish a housing market that eliminates profit incentives that drive up the cost and availability of homes for residents.
  • We must invest in our youth and those ready to expand their skills, to:
    • Build their capacity to care for our islands 
    • Increase our energy and food sustainability
  • We must restore ʻāina that has been environmentally degraded by historic misuse and neglect.
  • We encourage the business sector and the military to be partners in nurturing the well-being of our islands and its people.

We will use creativity and innovation to maximize our lessons from “the new normal” so we can: 

  • Decrease our carbon footprint
  • Embrace alternative energy resources, when appropriately incorporated into collaborating communities
  • Engage technologies that allow us to telework 
  • Use telemedicine
  • Free up our roadways and highways 
  • Lessen our impact on the ʻāīna 


We envision a regenerative visitor industry that respects and gives back to the ʻāina and our host culture and: 

  • ​Forms partnerships with the communities, which:
    • Protect those sacred and environmentally sensitive spaces that should not be impacted by visitors
    • Positively supports rural communities and the ʻāina
  • ​Ensures Hawaiian cultural integrity throughout its many sectors to:
    • Support Hawaiian cultural vibrancy
    • Provide visitors with a genuine and meaningful experience in Hawaiʻi 

We envision a regenerative visitor industry that supports our communities to:

  • Enable local businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit from the visitor industry instead of the visitor industry supporting a closed loop economic system that returns profits to the countries of the visitors’ origin.
  • Address the impact of vacation rentals and bed and breakfast units in residential neighborhoods, while balancing the need for Hawaiʻi families to earn a living income from their investments.

The ideals expressed in this Huliau Action Agenda sets the context for a healthier, more cohesive, and sustainable Hawaiʻi. Together we stand committed to seeing this vision come to fruition.   

[Once a final version is set, a link will be here so people can sign on to support this document.] 

Collaborative authors[1]

Amy Kalili

Davis Price

Ikaika Hussey

Joseph Lapilio

Kalani Kaʻanāʻanā

Kamana Beamer, PhD

Kēhaunani Abad, PhD

Keoni Lee

Lanakila Mangauil

Mahinapoepoe Paishon-Duarte

Nāʻālehu Anthony

Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, PhD

Ryan Gonzalez

Ulalia Woodside